Body cam footage in Santa Rita jail undercuts deputies' claims on 20-year-old inmate's death

Alameda County has released body camera videos from inside Santa Rita Jail that shows some of the final moments of a 20-year-old Fremont man, who was left chained to a cell door for about three hours before he hung himself last year.

The videos, released on Friday as part of a federal wrongful death suit, appear to contradict the sheriff’s narrative that Christian Madrigal was violent and needed to be restrained when he was taken to Santa Rita on June 10, 2019.

While Madrigal might have clenched, stiffened his body, and tensed up on that day, the video shows no visual evidence of him thrashing, kicking, punching, spitting or being violent in any way, after a careful review of the footage.

Police reports state that Madrigal had been acting aggressively days before with his family and during an incident in San Jose.

But throughout the 1 hour and 49 minutes of video provided, Madrigal is constrained in a WRAP, which is similar to a straight jacket, and wears a spit mask over his face. Madrigal’s head is down and he walks slowly. He is also seen lying down in much of the footage. Madrigal, who was six feet tall and weighed 132 pounds, was always surrounded by 10 to 12 deputies.

“The videotape shows that the deputies exaggerated what he was doing,” said Adante Pointer, a civil rights attorney in Oakland representing the Madrigal family. “And they exaggerated what he was doing to justify their force. This is why videotapes and body cameras are so important. Just because you say it’s so doesn’t make it so.”

Nurses conducted a quick heart rate and vitals sign check at intake.

There is no other evidence shown in the videos that any de-escalation techniques were used, or that any deputies trained in crisis intervention tried to talk to Madrigal or any alternatives other than restraints, chains and leg irons were used to make him obey with commands. One deputy speaks Spanish to Madrigal in a kind tone, explaining that they need him to put his hands through the jail door to be cuffed.

“Christian Madrigal was not resisting. Christian Madrigal was not fighting anybody. He was not being violent," said Pointer, the family's attorney. "Christian Madrigal looked, frankly, most of the time, like he was in a stupor. He was chained to a door and was essentially handed the rope in which to kill himself.”

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By: ThisIsButter (43393.90)

Tags: Man was left chained to cell door, Cops, Arrests